wmc2013The frenetic atmosphere of days one and two began to die down at WMC, but that’s not to say the panel content wasn’t important. In fact, the future of EDM was a significant focus of these two days.

The Music Industry is About to Make a Comeback

With a nod to a Pet Shop Boys song, panel “Opportunities: Let’s Make Lots of Money” began our third day at the Winter Music Conference. From the start, the talk reflected themes from day one: that is, with the industry changing, DJs and producers have greater chances to make money off their music.

Panelists, all of whom are involved in some capacity with record labels and artist management, first started off talking about goals: where an artist sees himself going and also where the label wants to go with a fan base, if his music can be licensed, branding, and, ultimately, making money actively and passively. Copyrighting songs, even if you manage yourself, was frequently mentioned.

Then, the topic of discussion veered toward giving music away – another common theme we’ve been hearing at WMC this year – and not all panelists agreed on this point. Many echoed Martin Tjho’s statement of, “If you want to set yourself up to make real money, you need to make sure you have a foundation,” but from here, the panel was divided. With the exception of Tjho, most agreed that giving away music is necessary at the start of a career, but then counterbalance that with another approach that makes money – such as live shows or getting fans to do something (ie: buy a T-shirt, get a free download). This approach, during the panel, was referred to as a “freemium” model.

Aside from making sure an artist has quality content out there, other advice and strategies the panel discussed involved video – specifically, using YouTube’s advertisement feature to make money and regular updates to keep viewers interested. Yoly Sista’s, for instance, involves adding videos of original material twice a month, covers twice per month, and more frequent tutorials and updates to keep the digital conversation going.

However, as multiple members of the panel mentioned, earning money from a YouTube video can take a while: An artist, they claim, gets about $1 for every 1,000 views. 500,000 views, on the other hand, can result in a consistent stream of income from Google.

While it was agreed across the board that simply putting your tracks up on iTunes won’t give an artist visibility, others stressed identity and the industry’s forward move. In describing that an artist must tell a story, Sista told the audience, “It’s extremely important an artist have an identity, a concept, and a message.”

Tjho, meanwhile, stressed that the new strategies to capitalize on the digital realm will revive the floundering music industry: “You will see a lot of new strategies being developed in an industry that’s upbeat.”

New Gear from Pioneer

The second workshop we sat in during day three was “The Progression of DJ & Production Technology,” basically a Q&A session with Gibson Pro Audio’s B-Side, Mobius 8 from Team Pitbull, and Pioneer’s David Arevalo. In fielding questions from the audience, the trio of gear developers and DJs offered the following insights.

DJing is moving toward controllers. Mobius 8, in speaking about the near future of DJing gear and adding emotion to a performance, told the audience, “I feel it’s about the controllers, how we interface with controllers.

DJing itself won’t change over the next year – but it may in three years. In talking about if and how DJing itself will change in the near future, Arevalo stated the approach won’t change. Pioneer, he claimed, is developing new gear with the user’s preference in mind. “We won’t dictate where the market goes,” he said, clarifying that Pioneer is essentially looking to see whether DJs still hold onto their CDJs or embrace controllers better.

We later briefly spoke with Arevalo about the new gear in development. While he couldn’t give us specifics, he told us, “There’s going to be something that’s really going to change the industry – it’s not traditional.”

It’s up to the artist to find the right product. The debate, a continuation from day two, essentially came to the conclusion that it’s about what works for the DJ instead of authenticity. While Sam Ash’s Steve Toro told the audience that turntables are basically dead, B-Side advised to physically test the gear before you buy, and Arevalo explained that, “The DJs want everything they’re doing now with less preparation.”

Ultimately, though, it’s not about the gear a DJ uses, but the crowd’s reaction. Arevalo told the audience, “There’s no technology that exists to communicate with the crowd.”

Transition to a Global Market

For years, EDM in the United States was like soccer – not taken seriously and not regarded as a force driving advertising dollars. Rather than solely exist underground or within select spheres, electronic dance music is known the world over, and panel “EDM – Emerging Markets,” with TED’s Brandi Veil and OneBeat Media’s Mikhail LaPushner, focused on this.

Both panel members, in touching on festivals but then examining EDM globally, described how the ever-growing genre has a “transformational” effect – not as passive as the majority of pop music up to the past decade and, instead, as an all-encompassing energy of sounds and light. LaPushner went as far to call it the return of a truly “tribal” genre for its participatory elements.

So, how does a “tribal” movement resonate on a global scale? Simply, through technology, with its fans acting as ambassadors. After Veil described the “immersive” experience associated with the genre, she went onto say, “It’s moving at such a pace that it’s becoming a ripple effect,” and over time, electronic music will be more integrated with more aspects of life. “It’s beyond what we can imagine.” Of course, as we have touched on, the particularly viral nature of EDM culture makes this near-global domination a possibility.

The panel, more than halfway through, shifted toward the discussion of advertisers taking advantage of this growing market – especially Live Nation, which we saw in 2012, buying up Hard Events and Creamfields and behind the first U.S. Sensation festival. Members of the audience were ardently against this monopoly of electronic music.

To LaPushner, EDM seems like the perfect model to get a message across to the world globally. With Electric Daisy Carnival and Swedish House Mafia at Madison Square Garden as already-existing examples, he went onto describe the power of Tiesto: “

[With his sets], you can have the same message across the world. […] Dollar for dollar, [it’s] the cheapest entertainment asset in the world.”

Essentially, how ESPN took advantage of the sports-loving Boomer consumers in the 1980s, the panel explained, is how marketers and advertisers are seeing electronic dance music with Millennials – a generation, they claim, that’s three times the size of the Boomers.